Friday, August 11, 2017

3 Tried & True Community Building Activities

Spending precious class time on non-curricular activities seems counter-intuitive. But developing trust within the classroom and fostering relationships is well worth the time spent and critical to a smooth school year. We start off each day with Morning Meeting (think preschool circle time, but big kid style), greeting each student and making eye contact, followed by a team building activity.

Here are three tried & true activities to build community and connections amongst students (and teacher)!
The Cup Challenge:

The Cup Challenge takes minimal prep time and is a great practice in using teamwork!! Divide students into groups of 4. Give each group 6 large plastic cups, a rubberband, and 1 piece of yarn or string 12”-18” long. Demonstrate how to tie the string to the rubberband, forming 4 corners. This will be used as a tool, as each student pulls their yarn, stretching the rubber band larger.
The group sets up their 6 cups: 3 mouth down and 3 mouth up, balanced on each other. The goal is for students using only their rubberband-yarn tool (no hands) to move the cups into a pyramid (base of 3 cups, 2 cups, 1 cup on top). Teams must use collaboration and community building for this to work!
Not only is this lesson so interesting (and entertaining!) to watch, but observing which groups actually work together to be successful is eye-opening!  Working together (or not) is very evident in certain groups; but students will now understand this necessary skill!

Skittles Positive Affirmations
When your kids see a bag or little dish of Skittles sitting on their desks, their curiosity will be piqued! This is a great activity to get students to focus on their positive attributes, as well as to learn a little more about each other.
Hula Hoop Pass

This is a simple, yet effective activity to get students working together. You need 1-2 hula hoops (available at Dollar Tree or borrow from a kindergarten teacher!) Students stand in a circle holding hands. (Okay, I have to admit. . . this is the hardest part of this activity. . . I simply tell my kids there's no such thing as cooties & "get over it and act like fourth graders") Anyway. . . the rules are simple:
1. Students must keep hands joined.
2. Without using their thumbs (as hooks), they must pass the hula hoop around the circle, back to the starting point.
Your kids will LOVE this activity! It's hilarious to watch their bodies bend, stretch, and contort to pass that hula hoop. We use a timer to see how long it takes to complete the circle and they quickly learn strategies for working together!

If you have a little more time to devote, creating a class mission statement is a FANTASTIC way to create unity and community. You can read more about this process here.
What do you do to build community with your students? I'd love to learn new ideas; comment below!

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